Smashing the Myth of Mr. Right

Cinderella was doomed to be a house slave until that special event where she would meet “him.” Snow White was all but dead until the Prince planted a kiss on her… and Ms. Sleeping Beauty? She was cursed into a coma until her ‘true love” came to rescue her. Is it any wonder that we women grew up thinking that we needed a man to complete us… to “save” us? Now, I’m all for love, don’t get me wrong. I am a romantic through and through, but I think the fairy tales we grew up watching have robbed us from feeling whole, apart from anyone else, to say the very least. I wasn’t even aware of it at the time, but when I was young and single, my main concern was to find love, and I’m certain that these fairy tales are the reason why.

I love romance. I love the idea of true love and happily ever after. And I’m fortunate to say I have this in my life today (fingers crossed). But, it didn’t happen in my twenties or even my thirties. Yes, I was 43 when I met “Mr. Right.” I had never been married (came close) but never got to the point where I could look a man in the eye and say, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Now, in my particular case, I wasn’t ready for a healthy relationship until my forties. I had too much to get right with myself before it would have been fair for me to share my life with someone else.

My thinking about relationships and finding true love have changed dramatically over the years and even though I’m happily married, I know that life can sometimes throw us a curve ball. I trust my husband, but I can’t say for certain that he won’t do something to jeopardize our relationship somewhere down the line. Unfortunate things happen, people make grave mistakes. I have chosen to love and trust him, as he has chosen to love and trust me. It’s all good, but should something happen, I will not slip into a coma like our dear Ms. Sleeping Beauty.

It really is so imperative that women view “falling in love” as a wonderful possibility in life and NOT life itself. And I believe with all my heart that love between two people cannot be forced or rushed or planned and that it happens in God’s time, not ours. When you look at it this way, it takes the pressure off. When you relinquish control to the universe and trust that “he” will come when it’s meant to be, you are free to live your life fully and happily without being affected by the curious friends and family who love to inquire, “So…are you seeing anyone?”

“So what if it never happens?” you might ask. My response to that question is that the worst result would be that you had lived your life to its fullest without a lifelong, committed relationship. Bummer, right? Maybe. Maybe not. There are many perks to being single as there are being in a loving relationship. There are also difficulties and challenges with both the single and married life. So, be okay with missing a few nights out on the town, go the gym without make-up on, do something you’re passionate about without being concerned that it may be taking time away from your “search.” Date, have fun, DON’T SETTLE, be yourself and continue to grow into the person God has intended you to be IN AND OF YOURSELF and love will find you when it’s time!

Here’s to YOU and not letting your relationship status dictate your happiness!

With Love, Karen Michelle Miller

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Self-Acceptance… or Change?

There is so much going around on social media about accepting yourself just as you are and having the courage to change. So, which is it? Do we accept ourselves fully or do we change that which we believe to be lacking or undesirable? It can’t be both, right? I believe they can and are. My experience has shown me that they are not contradictory and that they are a part of the same process that must begin with genuine self-acceptance.

If I don’t care about (accept) myself, why would I care about changing? I had to FIRST love and accept myself exactly as I was before I could begin to change that which was blocking me from happiness.”

This realization was vital to my recovery, for not until I began to care about myself, fatal flaws and all, could I have the motivation to change. And trust me, there wasn’t a whole lot of good to love and accept. I was 37 years old with a trail of wreckage behind me. “Changing” at 37 seemed highly improbable, but it took that long for me because I had never cared for myself before that time. In fact, in hindsight, I think I despised myself for everything that I wasn’t…and was… and all that I could have been, but never became. But, something happened that changed my perspective. I don’t know exactly what that “something” was, but I began to feel compassion for myself, if that’s possible. I appreciated my own pain and began to care about this human life that was hurting so badly. I was a mother, a daughter and a woman with a good heart, though it was covered up with so much fear, pain and self-loathing. I had fooled myself for so long that it was life that I couldn’t bear, when in fact, it was being in my own skin that I couldn’t tolerate.

So, what did I do? I started by looking in the mirror, both literally and figuratively, and no longer condemned what I saw, but began to love and care about this woman who was so lost. I still feel badly for her… that she had to suffer for so long. But, that is over now. Over 10 years ago, I began making changes in my life by reading (and implementing) the wisdom of sages and seeking God’s will for me through prayer and meditation. And day after day, month after month, year after year, my life got better. I got better. Ah, God’s Grace and hard, honest work…the makings of a miracle.

I remember when I was first presented with the idea of aspiring to do God’s will and not my own, and it frustrated me. Who the hell knows what the will of God is? I mean, really? Well, as it turned out, it wasn’t really that complicated. It began to come to me in fragments: First, I was sure, He wanted me to get and stay sober. He wanted me to get a job (any job) and pay my own way. He wanted me to be completely honest and to be kind and respectful to my fellow women and men. He wanted me to be a giver and no longer just a taker. He wanted me to be a good mother to my children and He wanted me stop blaming everybody and everything for the state of my own life. He wanted me to be accountable and to seek His guidance when I felt lost or scared. Quite simply, I sought Him and He came, bringing me insight I had never known.

So, what does God want you to change or accept? Just ask Him.

With Love,

Karen Michelle Miller

 

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This entry was posted on August 2, 2015. 2 Comments

Life, Change… and The Serenity Prayer

I believe it is one of the wisest verses ever written in the history of humankind.  It has become so hugely popular, however, that I sometimes wonder if its profoundly enlightening meaning has been lost in the commercialism of this wonderful nugget of wisdom.  This beautiful prayer is pinned to people’s refrigerators (including my own) and made into posters that are mass-produced and distributed. But what does The Serenity Prayer really mean when we look at it closely?

 

“God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can

and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

It appears obvious enough, but understanding its meaning superficially and really contemplating its significance in our OWN lives is two very different things.  If we really analyze each of these lines, we find that The Serenity Prayer is essentially a Guideline for Living.  Let’s look at it line by line.

“The serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”  Okay, so what can’t I change?

– I can’t change the past

– I can’t change my height, my skin color, my genetic make-up or my overall appearance (meaning facial features, hair type, bone structure, etc)

– I can’t change my age

– I can’t change my familial bloodline

– I can’t change other people

– I can’t change the ways of the world (Although, I CAN make an impact, the world essentially is what it is)

Okay, so these are the things I need to accept in order to have serenity.  I certainly haven’t listed every life condition that we must accept, but I think these are the main conditions of life that we must accept as being what they are.

“The courage to change the things I can.”  Ah, Courage. That beautiful, difficult word.  I think a lot of us don’t fully admit our fears, mainly because we’re not in touch with them.  They’re often buried underneath ego and pride, so we remain fearful and stuck and blame one of the things I mentioned above, such as “other people” or our “genetic make-up” for why our lives are so unsatisfying.  Before we can be courageous, we must first admit that we are afraid ~ Afraid of change, afraid of failing, even afraid of succeeding!  These are normal human fears and once we acknowledge them, we can begin to “change the things we can.”

So, what are some things I can change?

– I can change where I live

– I can change the people I have in my life

– I can change my job, career or school major

– I can change my religion, my political views or my opinion as I see fit

– I can change my diet, my weight and my overall health

– I can change my thoughts. THIS is a big one.  I didn’t learn this (nor did it ever occur to me) until I was in my thirties, and when I put it into practice, it was one of the most powerful discoveries that ultimately transformed my life.

Of course, this list could go on and on.  The possibilities for creating change in our lives are truly endless.

“The wisdom to know the difference.”  This takes objective and enlightened thinking that can come to us with guidance from our Higher Power.  Whether you call this power God, the Knowledge of the Universe, Buddha or Creative Intelligence, seek Its guidance. The answers are out there!

And of course, out of turn, but saving the best for last ~ “God, grant me…”  For the purposes of simplicity I will refer to my own higher power, GOD.  For whatever reason, without God, I was unable to discern what I was truly capable of changing and what I needed to accept in order to have peace. When I was left to my own devices, I remained lost and confused.  When I sought His help, it came.  I do not need intellectual explanations, nor am I interested in debating the issue.  My life, then and now, is all the proof I need that spiritual help is available to us all.

There really is so much more that we are capable of than most of us were taught to believe and The Serenity Prayer is a great place to start in discovering our ability for change, acceptance and peace of mind. xo


                                                           praying woman

 

The Freedom to be Happy

FREEDOM.  I suppose we could all assign our own definition to this beautiful word.  Many certainly do.  In fact, some will fight to the death or at least, argue until they’re blue in the face, to defend their OWN freedoms: politically, religiously and morally.  You can see it all around, the divided groups, from high school cliques to national organizations. “They” are idiots because they do not believe as we do.  I certainly understand disagreeing with a certain philosophy, but why do we go to such extremes to condemn those who wish to share their own voice and live their own life according to their own beliefs?

Life is hard.  Especially when a person is young and the world is so big and loud and confusing.  Every year, approximately one million people commit suicide.  ONE MILLION.  Why?  Is it all mental illness?  Could some of these suicides be attributed to a world that was so harsh, that people decided to end their lives, rather than endure its condemnation?  I believe the answer is “yes.”

The United Nation’s list of Basic Human Rights leads with the following:

Article 1:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

A spirit of brotherhood.  I think we’ve forgotten or we’re just not willing to do it ~ Treat each other as brothers and sisters who, of course, will argue… but in the end, will want each other to be happy.  It’s my dream that this will take priority over pushing our own agenda so hard that we only alienate one another. That we remember, above all else, to LOVE.

 

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Resources:

http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-statistics.html

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

 

30 Days to Live

It sounds like a near impossibility, especially when you’re young. You have your “whole life in front of you” and if you’re unhappy, living another 50, 60 or 70 years seems more like a sentence than a gift. I watched a movie last night where a doctor told a man that he had about 30 days to live. It got me thinking. I hope it gets you thinking, too.

The average life span for a woman in industrialized nations is roughly 75-80 years. That’s an average. Some will live to be 100, while others will not make it to their 18th birthday. My mother died when she was 47. If I were to live as long as she did, I’d have about 6 months to live. Sound depressing? It depends on how you look at it. Nobody really knows what happens after this life. I, personally, believe that this life is just a fraction of what our “souls” will experience. Of course, that could be (and will be) discussed and debated until the end of time. But, here’s my point: We know we have this life, though we’re not guaranteed how long it will last. So, are we going to spend it being unhappy, or happy? Of course, everyone would choose happiness. The problem is, some of us don’t know how to go about attaining it.

Let’s look at what we have to work with: The very fact that you’re reading this means that you’re among the 12-14% of the people in the world who have access to a computer. That’s right. More than 85% of the world population does not have access to the wealth of information that you and I do. Close to a billion people do not have enough food to eat. And almost another billion people started the 21st century being unable to read a book or sign their names.  So, here I go… I’m going to talk about the “G” word. GRATITUDE. It’s one of the most powerful tools we can use to better our attitudes and enrich our lives. However bad we think we have it, there is someone else who has it much worse. Now, I’m not trying to guilt anyone into being happy. What I’m trying to do is get us to look outside of our immediate surroundings so we can see the whole picture.  And I say “we” because we’re all guilty of forgetting how good we have it sometimes.  It’s human nature.  But, I think we would all have a more positive (yes, positive) perspective if we ponder for a little while how we would feel if we were given just 30 days to live.

I’m going to count my blessings tonight. I hope you do, too. xo

With Love,

Karen

 

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Resources:

Computer access: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_percentage_of_the_world’s_population_own_a_computer

Women’s life span:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.FE.IN

Illiteracy & Poverty:

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

25 Reasons to Never Give Up

1)  This, too, shall pass.

2)  One day you will use this experience to help someone else.

3)  There is no such thing as a “normal” person. There has never been anybody like you, and there never will be again.  The world needs your voice and vision.

4)  Nobody said life would be easy.  It’s tough for all of us at times.  Don’t let the smiles of the world around you fool you.  Everybody’s fighting something.

5)  If you don’t fulfill your purpose, then who?

6)  Nobody ever said after a victory, “I wish I had given up.”

7)  It doesn’t rain forever. The sun ALWAYS shines again.

8) Everybody deserves a fighting chance.  YOU are no exception.

9)  Somebody you love is counting on you.

10) For every moment that you persevere, you are getting stronger and stronger.

11) Whatever you are going through, you’re going through it for a reason.

12) If you have failed at something, GOOD. It’s well known that the most successful people in the world have had the most failures because they NEVER gave up. Keep trying. Your time WILL come.

13) There IS light at the end of every tunnel. Even if you can’t see it yet, it’s there. Keep moving forward, do the right thing… and the light will find YOU.

14) Regardless of what your mind is telling you, you are valuable. You are valuable. YOU ARE VALUABLE.

15) The most wonderful things in life tend to happen at the moment you’re about to give up.

16) The hardest things in life teach us the most. See this struggle as a chance to grow into a better and stronger person rather than just something you must needlessly suffer through.

17) A child in your life is watching you.

18) A year from now you will look back on this as something that you endured and survived.  No pain lasts forever.

19) We don’t get to choose our lessons in life, but we do get to choose whether or not we learn from them.  Choose to LEARN.

20) You are NOT alone.  There isn’t a feeling that you’re experiencing that hasn’t been felt by countless people before you. It’s the complex human condition. Ride it out.

21) No person is worth your giving up. NO PERSON. If you have been deceived by someone, it is their problem. NOT YOURS.

22) Everything in the universe is interconnected.  For every person who gives up the fight, humanity suffers a little.

23) Pain isn’t a detour from the journey, it’s part of it. We all have pain somewhere along our path. Keep walking and one day you’ll discover you’ve moved beyond it.

24) Your life has purpose, you just need to be patient with yourself while you are discovering it.

25) God has a plan for your life and you giving up ISN’T IT.

 

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42 Things Depression Hates

Depression affects millions of lives every year.  I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder 20 years ago and was actually told by a psychiatrist that due to my brain chemistry I would “probably never be happy.”  I’ll never forget that.  Today, despite his educated opinion, I live a virtually depression-free life. Not because I magically don’t have it anymore, but because I’ve learned how to successfully manage it.  I have compiled the following list for those who are afflicted or love someone who is battling depression. So, let’s get to it!

1)  Medical attention. Depression is caused, IN PART, by a chemical imbalance in the brain and the right medicine can balance this out. Though anti-depressants can help depression, they alone can’t cure it.

2)  Exercise. It is absolutely imperative that people prone to or suffering from depression exercise. I, for example, take Tae Kwon Do, and although the physical benefits are great, my main reason for doing it is to keep my mental health in check.

3)  A healthy diet. Diet is so important. When we trade those fries for a fruit smoothie, our energy increases, no matter how slightly, and so does our mood. Every little bit helps!

4)  Talking. This can be counseling, honest conversation with a good friend or a shout out to God.  When we hold in our feelings it only magnifies them.  There is something very therapeutic about speaking how we feel. Let it out!

5)  Humor.  “Laughter is the best medicine.” It really is. Force yourself to watch a funny movie or TV show. Your depression will hate it, but that’s the whole point! ☺

6)  Company. Depression wants you to be alone, but isolating is the very worst thing you can do when you’re depressed.  Surround yourself with people.  Going to a park or a mall and watching life going on around you can give you some honest perspective.

7)   Service.  Do something for somebody else.  Bring in your neighbor’s trashcans or bake them cookies. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a boys or girls club.  Kindness goes a long way in helping us feel better when we’re depressed.

8)  Anger.  Identify it and express it.  Are you mad at somebody?  Tell them.  You don’t need to be obnoxious or loud when venting your anger.  Calmly tell them why what they did upset or hurt you, then let it go.

9)  Sobriety.  People who suffer from depression should not drink or do drugs. Though drinking or using may bring temporary relief, it will eventually make your depression much worse.

10)  Upbeat music.  What are you listening to?  Sad and melancholy music is off limits!  Trust me on this one.  Listen to something upbeat and positive.  My favorite anti-depression music? Earth, Wind and Fire.

11)  Lists.  When we have everything we need to do floating around in our heads, it gets overwhelming…and depressing.  Make a daily list and a monthly list.  On your daily list, write down the things you’d like to get done that day.  And don’t put too much on your list.  It has to be doable.  On your monthly list, write down what you’d like to accomplish that month.  Again, be realistic.  Scratch out items as you complete them.  The sense of accomplishment that comes from scratching things out that you’ve completed is really gratifying. I use a big, black Sharpie pen.

12)  Sunshine. Get outside! Just 15 minutes outside in the sun everyday warms not just your face, but your insides, too. ☺

13)  Color.  Black and Grey, no!  Try red, green, yellow or purple!  Add color to your surroundings and to your wardrobe!

14)  Nature.  Get out amongst the trees and the grass and the bugs ☺. Go for a walk in the park; along a stream or river; or along the beach or in the mountains. Nature is everywhere… you just have to GO to it.

15)  Games.  Play cards, Monopoly, Pictionary or Yatzee. There is something about playing games that brings out the playfulness and competitiveness of our youth.

16)  Deep breathing. 3 deep breaths, in and out VERY slowly, are very relaxing and help to calm the nerves.

17)  Movement. Depression tells us to go to bed and lie there.  We can’t listen.  We must move.  Take the stairs, dance in your room, do some sit-ups, walk to the corner market and get some chocolate (more on chocolate later ☺). It doesn’t matter, just MOVE.

18)  Clubs and organizations.  There are literally dozens, if not hundreds (depending on where you live) to choose from. Just Google, “clubs and organizations” and then your “area”. Some examples would be a book club, a faith-based organization or a political one.

19)  Gratitude.  We all have things to be grateful for.  Just the fact that you have access to a computer means that you are amongst the less than 15% of the world population that do.  Do you know where your next meal is coming from?  Do you have a roof over your head?  These kinds of things are so easy to take for granted.  We need to remind ourselves how good we actually have it compared to many.

20)  Pets.  I recommend something soft and fluffy, like my puppy, Chloe. My husband would suggest a larger animal, like our Black Lab puppy, Sasha.  Cats are good, too, as my sister would attest to.  Get an animal to love and who will adore you back.  It really does help.

21)  The movies.  Go to the movies!  Check the reviews and go see something great!  Buy some $7 popcorn and $5 soft drink!  If you can’t afford the movie theater concessions, sneak in some snacks and drinks!

22)  Problem solving.  Depression will tell you that your problems are insurmountable.  Depression lies. Get out your pen and paper (or open Word) and write down your perceived problems and possible solutions. If you find that one of your problems has no solution, there is still a solution: Acceptance.  Work on 1 problem at a time.  Obviously, the most pressing one. But, don’t put too much on your plate.

23)  Sleep.  Some people with depression sleep too much, but some suffer from insomnia. Lack of sleep can really send depression into a tailspin. If you can’t sleep with over-the-counter aids, see your doctor.

24)  Prayer and Meditation.  I cannot stress this one enough. I’m going to share with you a prayer that I say whenever I’m feeling a little lost…

”Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.”

I can already hear some of you saying, “But I’m not religious.” You don’t have to be religious, but you do need to find the spiritual part of yourself that has no doubt been suffering from neglect. We need to take care of our bodies, our minds and our souls.

25)  Water.  Drink it; play in it, bath in it!  There’s something magical about WATER.  Stay hydrated, first and foremost, but also enjoy the soothing feeling of being submerged in warm or cool water (whichever you prefer).

26)  Gifts.  Don’t wait for someone else to spoil you.  Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can allow for some small gifts to yourself.  Buy yourself some flowers, a cute top, or a Starbuck’s. ☺

27)  Forgiveness.  It is so important to forgive yourself.  Whatever it is that you think you’ve done or haven’t done, forgive yourself.  We’re all only human, and that includes others. Forgive them, too.  This may not bring you happiness, but it will bring you peace.

28)  Aromatherapy. “Aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine that uses essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds which are aimed at improving a person’s health or mood.  Early clinical trials suggest aromatherapy may have some benefit as a complementary treatment in reducing stress, pain, nausea, and depression.”  See links below for further information.

29)  Affection.  Hugging and touching are so important.  We need physical contact.  Hug your mom, your sister or your new pet. ☺

30)  Dark Chocolate.  It’s not just delicious!  Dark Chocolate helps to release serotonin in the brain and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system. Just keep in mind the calories!  A little piece goes a long way anyways!

31)  Long drives.  I know this one is tough with the price of gasoline, but if you can budget it, plan a long drive on a Sunday afternoon.  Roll down the windows and take in the fresh air and scenery.  It can be very exhilarating…and calming.

32)  Thrills.  When was the last time you rode a roller coaster? Have fun!!!

33)  Good books.  This one has saved me on more than one occasion. Get lost in a good book. Of course, something uplifting or heart-warming. Avoid tragedies and horror. ☺

34)  Comedy shows.  Whether you rent one at home or actually go to a club, a good comedy show will have you laughing ‘til your belly hurts!

35)  Singing, whistling and humming.  This one I actually do daily.  My kids and husband will attest to it and will also tell you that I’m weird.  But, I’ll tell you, singing commands or complaints is far more effective than yelling them.  They get to be amused and I get to release stress, so everybody wins!

36)  Learning something new.  This can be literally anything, from taking a cooking class, to learning a computer program or learning a new language.  It keeps life from getting mundane, which in and of itself can be depressing.

37)  Museums.  Museums are just wonderful for gaining a new perspective.  I remember the last time I went to one, I wasn’t in the best of moods, but I left the Museum feeling uplifted and moved.  There is just something about history and art that stirs the soul.

38)  Decluttering.  When stuff and disorganization and papers, etc. surround us it just adds to our level of stress in life. Keep your living environment simple, clean and organized.

39)  Caffeine.  Studies have shown that caffeine can alleviate depressive symptoms.  Of course, don’t over do it or you’ll be anxious as well as depressed.

40)  Causes.  Find something that you can be passionate about!  There has to be something that moves you, angers you or saddens you about your community. Underprivileged kids? Mental Health? The Environment? Find your own passion and see how you might contribute to aiding your cause.

41)  Sunsets and Sunrises.  There is something very spiritual and calming about watching the birth of a new day or the closing of one. Let yourself enjoy a sunset or sunrise once in a while. They can be just breathtaking.

42)  Hope.  Depression hates hope.  It wants you to give up.  It wants you to not try. If you take nothing more away from having read this blog, I hope it will be that you must never give up HOPE that you, too, can manage your depression.

I realize this list is going to frustrate some people. “But, I’m DEPRESSED. I don’t feel like doing any of that stuff!”  I know. I get it.  I’ve been there.  But, you can’t rely on how you feel when you’re depressed.  You need to make yourself do things that could potentially make you feel better.  Start small.  Today, make a list. Tomorrow, go for a walk.  The next day, buy yourself some colorful things for your apartment or home.

Every little bit that you do is an investment in YOURSELF.  I know you can do it!  And I’ll be right here rooting you on!

With Love, Karen

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Depression Tips:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Health/Healthy-Living/11-Simple-Strategies-to-Move-Past-Depression.aspx

http://www.metanoia.org/help/helpyourself.htm

http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression-pictures/8-foods-that-fight-depression.aspx

Pampering yourself:

http://parentables.howstuffworks.com/self/137-Ways-Pamper-Yourself-Lift-Your-Spirits-Recharge-Your-Life.html

Aromatherapy:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10884.php

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine